So, you finally decided to book that long overdue vacation and thought, “What better companion for a getaway than my best furry friend?” Traveling with your pet can be a great idea, so long as you consider all the pros and cons. At Best Friends Veterinary Care, we know a thing or two about traveling with pets—including what not to do. Here’s our advice:

Don’t assume your accommodation will be pet-friendly

Surely if you bring your pet with you on vacation, they’ll be welcome wherever you go, right? Wrong. Most hotels, rental properties, restaurants, and shops have strict policies regarding pets on their premises. While a world of pet-friendly businesses sounds dreamy to any pet owner who loves to bring Fido along for the ride, that’s not reality. Therefore, if you’re heading out of town, you’ll need to ensure that your furry friend is welcome at your destination. Most hotels and certain Airbnb rentals offer limited pet accommodations, but they will likely fill up quickly, depending on your destination and other factors. You’ll also need to consider the location of your accommodation—for example, do they have a nearby pet-relief area, or will certain features (e.g., stairs, slick floors) be problematic for your pet? Additionally, some businesses have species or breed restrictions, so you should check that your pet falls into an acceptable category.

Don’t expect your pet to be a travel pro

While the planning for traveling with your pet may go smoothly, the actual trip may unfold differently. If your dog, cat, or pocket pet isn’t accustomed to traveling long distances in a car or on an airplane, they may become stressed or perhaps physically ill come voyage time. To best gauge your pet’s response to traveling, take them with you in the car whenever safely possible. If your pet will be flying, leave their crate open and accessible at home, to get them used to being crated, encouraging and praising them when they go near or inside. If, after lots of practice, your pet still appears anxious (e.g., excessive panting, pacing) or shows physical distress signs (i.e., drooling, vomiting, inappetence), contact Best Friends Veterinary Care for guidance. 

Don’t mix up your routine, if possible

While keeping an exact routine when traveling with your pet is impossible, simulating meal times, exercise, and play time can help your furry friend more easily transition to their new surroundings. Keeping things as familiar as possible is especially important for pets who may become easily stressed or anxious. You can also help your pet feel at home by bringing along some recognizable items, such as their bed or some toys, and using their same food, treats, and litter whenever possible. 

Don’t forget the essentials

Of course, a pet requires their own packing list. From food to collars, and leashes to poop bags, you don’t want to leave home without a myriad of items when Fluffy is along for the ride. Here are a few other important items you’ll want to pack: 

  • Medications and supplements (i.e., enough for the amount of travel days, plus an additional three days)
  • Travel crate
  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Identification tags, or better yet—a microchip
  • Essential veterinary records that contain immunization and diagnosis information
  • Pet first aid kit

Don’t delay planning

Our biggest piece of advice when planning to travel with your pet? Start planning as early as possible. Since bringing your furry friend along for the ride comes with many additional considerations, you won’t want to be scrambling at the last minute, possibly overlooking some important details. Accommodations that accept pets fill up quickly and will likely be difficult to find at the last minute. Most airlines have limited space for pets in both the cargo hold and in the cabin, making early reservations a wise choice. Some pets, such as brachycephalic or senior pets, may require special considerations before traveling, necessitating attentive planning. And, once you reach your destination, you’ll need to have planned pet-friendly activities as well as a safe place to stay—always remembering that leaving your pet in a hot car—for only a few minutes—is never, ever OK. Lastly, look for nearby 24/7 veterinary care when choosing your destination and accommodations. 

With careful preparation and attention to detail, traveling with your pet can be a delightful adventure. At Best Friends Veterinary Care, we’re here to help you with all your pet travel needs, so if you need to stock up on food or medication, or have questions or concerns regarding traveling with your pet, contact us.